More than two million people in England still won't be able to see friends and family when lockdown rules are eased this weekend.

Rules are changing across the UK - with different numbers of people now allowed to meet up England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.

But for the 2.16million people told to 'shield' because they are clinically vulnerable, the rules won't change for some time.

George Eustice has warned that those shielding from coronavirus may have to continue to do so “for several more months”.

Asked about ways to make life easier for those who are shielding, the Environment Secretary told LBC: “Well it is something that we are looking at because we completely recognise that those who are shielded and clinically vulnerable who have been told to isolate and not to see friends and family at all, that is going to start taking its toll on them and we want to be able to find ways to be able to do that.

“But it is very, very difficult because they are clinically vulnerable and nobody obviously wants to visit family in that group and find that they’ve given them the virus.

“So we don’t have answers yet, that’s why they have to remain shielded for the time being, possibly for several more months.”

He added that it is “a difficult situation with that shielded cohort”.

According to the NHS, if you have been identified as needing shielding - if you are at high risk of developing complications - you will have received a letter from your GP, hospital or (if identified nationally) from the national helpline.

Where the NHS holds a mobile number it will have also sent you a series of SMS text messages. These will come from either 07307 810357 or UK_Gov. If you are unclear why you have received a letter, contact your GP or hospital consultant.

You should register yourself on the gov.uk website if you need extra help and support. If you do not register on the website, then you will be contacted by the shielding helpline to confirm that you do not need support.

The call will be made from 0333 3050466. It is not a live telephone line, but if you call it you will get the recorded message: “You were called today by the Shielding Helpline, sorry that we missed you, there is no need to call us back as we will try again soon. Thank you, goodbye”.

High risk of developing complications from coronavirus (COVID-19) infection.

  1. Solid organ transplant recipients.
  2. People with specific cancers:
  1. People with severe respiratory conditions including all cystic fibrosis, severe asthma and severe chronic obstructive pulmonary (COPD).
  2. People with rare diseases and inborn errors of metabolism that significantly increase the risk of infections (such as Severe combined immunodeficiency (SCID), homozygous sickle cell).
  3. People on immunosuppression therapies sufficient to significantly increase risk of infection.
  4. Women who are pregnant with significant heart disease, congenital or acquired.

Moderate risk of developing complications from coronavirus (COVID-19) infection

Patients are at moderate risk of developing complications from coronavirus (COVID-19) where:

This includes the following patient groups: